ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


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Taal (France) - 2000 - "Mister Green" ******
(68 min, "Musea")

Released in the end of 2000, right on the threshold of the new millenium, "Mister Green" is just the debut album by Taal, but how hard to believe in that! I haven't heard in years such strong, mature and high-quality debuts with regard to both the compositional and performing mastery. Taal is a traditional "Rock" quartet (keyboards, guitars, bass, drums), but there were no less than the same number of the guest musicians, played on various wind instruments (including brass ones) and violin-cellos throughout the album, too. As a result, the "Mister Green" album represents a unique, complex, extremely interesting music, that actually is a very well balanced mix of Classic Art-Rock (or Symphonic Progressive, if you will), Prog-Metal, and Classical Music with additional bits of fairy-sounding and buffoonery-alike music. The album's (self-titled) only song (English lyrics written and sung by the drummer) stands in the middle of the track-list, being surrounded by all-instrumental compositions. Most of them range 8 to 15 minutes, while the opening (15-minute Barbituricus), third (13- minute Flat Spectre), and closing (12-minute Super Flat Moon) are especially rich in diverse and highly effective arrangements. All in all, Taal's "Mister Green" is not only an absolute masterpiece, but also one of the few top albums (if not the best one) that were released in the last year of the end of the past millenium. More than highly recommended! content

Tazartes - 2006 - "Check Point Charlie 2005" ****+
(62 min, Gazul)

Ghedalia Tazartes is a singer, composer and musician from France. According to the CD press kit, "Check Point Charlie 2005" is the reissue of his latest solo effort (originally released in 1990) with some additional sonic textures, which were overdubbed by Tazartes especially for this occasion. This is a very strange, but definitely unique stuff, which can't be subjected even to relativist comparisons. The six long tracks mostly bring to mind something heavily surreal, lying far beyond our customary perception of reality. Experiments with electronic music accompanied by the man's abstract singing alternate with either random effects and, say, odd human noises or the conglomerations of avant-garde soundscapes, at times giving way to angular movements with dissonant pianos remotely reminding me of RIO. I don't like to call any music lovers freaks, but this recording is destined exclusively for the latter:-).

Musea Records

TellTaleHard (Germany) - 2000 - "Spiral Stairs" ****

An excellent example of contemporary Neo-Prog-Metal. Unlike many bands of that style from Rhapsody and Stratovarius to Royal Hunt and Symphony X, TellTaleHard presents not some amorphous/non-inspired, strained/sugary melodic Metal, but very well constructed (composed, arranged and performed) true power Metal with strong structures and, at the same time, more or less satisfactory level of complexity. Each of the songs (there are 5 in all on "Spiral Stairs") contains a few diverse themes and arrangements, some excellent interplays between both guitarists and good guitar solos as well (no keyboards). While instrumental parts (oh, the rhythm section, too) are done well, vocal parts with English lyrics are also OK. Not so bright as all the four aforementioned bands, TellTaleHard guys however bring with their music a real energy together with obvious progressive tendencies. This album was made with the help of Oliver Phillips and Christian Moos of Everon (and of course, mastered by Eroc of the same Everon / Grobschnitt fame), by the way. Please visit the TellTaleHard webpage for more info: content

Ten Midnight - 2006 - "Ten Midnight" ***+
(48 min,

TEN MIDNIGHT is an Italian five-piece of guitars, keyboards, flute, bass and drums. On their eponymous debut CD they present eight songs, half of which are conventional AOR, and the remainder Hard Rock / AOR with occasional progressive tendencies which, though, reveal themselves exclusively in instrumental sections, all of which in turn are short - excluding the one in the song, Storm, which is the only more or less interesting track here. The vocal themes are built upon an extremely primitive verse-chorus / hooks-after-hooks:-) scenario everywhere on the recording, hence most of the music is straightforward and is just boring. content

Taproban (Italy) - 2004 - "Outside Nowhere" ****
(46 min, demo)

The second Taproban output, "Outside Nowhere", will be officially released (by Mellow Records) only in a few months, but the guys decided to send out self-made promo copies beforehand. The review of the debut Taproban album is located >here. The members of the project remain the same: keyboardist and vocalist Gianluca de Rossi, bassist Guglielmo Mariotti, and percussionist Davide Guidoni. This time the trio presents a concept (at least, semi-concept) album dedicated to the heroes of space exploration. Of course, the space themes are the essence of the album, and the music is mostly Symphonic Art-Space Rock, though the bits of a few other genres are present on the album as well. At the Fifteenth Orbit (1) is short and is an introduction to the following events rather than a separate composition. However, the second track, which also gives the title to the album, is 19 minutes in length and is an outstanding musical representation of a space odyssey. This composition features a very impressive guest musician playing saxophone, Alessandro Papotto (of Pereferia Del Mondo). In my view, this is the best track on the album. Il dificcile equilibrio tra sorgenti d'energia (4) sounds like a simplified version of one of the latest songs by Peter Hammill. Nexus (8) is another excellent composition. Located at very end the album, it sounds rather nostalgic and sad and is the proper conclusion of it. The last words uttered by Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov, who crashed to the ground with the Soyuz-1 spaceship after it orbited the Earth fifteen times, are playing as a background here. On the other tracks the music reminds me of some of the ambient albums by Rick Wakeman. The sound is almost exclusively based on the parts of synthesizer and other electronic keyboards. In all, "Outside Nowhere" is a merely good album. Maybe it will make a stronger influence on me after I get it from Mellow Records in all its 'official' glory. content

Temptations, The - 1973 - "1990" *****+

Very, very obscure true Prog-masterpiece from a band, which now is more known as a Pop-Soul-men-quintet. However, years and years ago The Temptations was one of the most innovative and original band within Prog-Fusion genre. "1990" is , in my opinion, their best album by far, though universally recognized as a "winner" was its predecessor. The music on "1990" is a unique blend of Soul, Jazz-Fusion and Sympho-Prog with open domination of the latter style, though. Maybe exactly that factor prevented "Motown Records" from reissuing on CD one of the few gems of the label? content

The Rabbit Hat - 2002 - "BCC & Related Sessions" **
(68 min, Hi-Note)

I haven't listened to The Rabbit Hat nor even heard of this band before, and I can hardly tolerate "acoustic sessions" in general, including even those by famous and really great bands. All of the 18 songs on "BCC & Related Sessions" feature only vocals done exclusively to the rhythms of only one acoustic guitar. This album represents some bard creation rather than anything else. Everything here is too simple and monotonous to draw attention of any categories of music lovers, except those into... You have certainly guessed to whom I am referring. content

Transient (USA) - 2004 - "Demo" ****+
(2 tracks, 12 min CD-R)

There is only one man behind Transient - a very gifted multi-instrumentalist and singer named Edward Faust. The two songs presented on this demo have a full-fledged band sound, as if they were performed by a quintet, all the members of which are skilled musicians. The music is a classic contemporary Prog-Metal of moderate complexity, with a rather dark overall atmosphere. Structurally, by the level of progressiveness and by the density of sound, it reminds of classic Queensryche ('86-'88) and Fates Warning's "Disconnection". Though, of course, it's difficult to make up some concrete conclusion in this case. Let's wait till a full-length album appears. content

Twelfth Night - 1982 - "Fact and Fiction" (UK) *+

God knows what was the reason, that I once bought this "Made in Switzerland by "Tecval" CD for $25(!) in Moscow... This is one of the worst Neo-works I've ever heard. Much ado about nothing... Also, I've heard that Arena's "Verglas" intends to reissue the "Fact and Fiction" album, maybe with more qualitative sound. Anyway, you'd better avoid it. If you still want to hear the 12-th Night, choose "Live at the Target" (1981, not a compilation). content

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